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OneOverZero
Oct 14, 2005

JET FUEL CAN'T MELT SEALED BEAMS

Iím a few weeks away from closing on a house for the first time (pending satisfactory inspection and such) and am attempting to figure out how Iíll turn an unconditioned basement garage into a functional workspace that wonít threaten my familyís health and safety. Garage-specific forums seem to be nothing more than Harley theme galleries and orthodontistís-first-Audi storage, so Iíve come up short on practical information.

Structural background: Walls are poured concrete on three sides, with a pair of single garage doors on the east. A nonstructural dividing wall (plywood, R15-20 insulation, and drywall, with drywall facing the garage) separates the two areas with a standard interior door. Each area is roughly 28í north-to-south and 23í deep. Ceiling height is roughly 7.5-8' in the shop side, with PVC plumbing and fiberglass insulation exposed between joists, while the garage ceiling is slightly higher and drywalled/popcorned. Only the garage doors open to level land; the west and north ceilings are level with the turf, with a couple shallow windows mounted ~5' from the floor on the south wall (so no accessibility for a window-mount HVAC).


17p:1ft

My primary concern is doing what I can to keep radon and moisture out of the basement. All appears to be solid (again, awaiting inspection), though the shop/storage concrete walls are painted (likely when constructed in 1995) and all floors are entirely unsealed. This county has something like the third-highest average radon concentration in the country, so I'll likely be installing a vacuum pump pending inspection, but how feasible is it to KILZ/seal basement walls in such a poorly-ventilated space? Same goes for the flooring - ideally, Iíd treat the concrete somehow (if only to make them easier to clean, moisture/radon aside), but I worry about doing so with only that single door to vent VOCs out the dividing wall rather than up into the house. Is there a sealer good for this purpose?

Relatedly, Iíll inevitably have some fumes in the garage/shop (vehicle evap systems, 4.0 Jeep rear main seals, spills, etc) so Iíd like to insulate the living space to whatever extent possible. Replacing the two doors between the shop and stairs with properly-sealed exterior doors will help, but I'd like to install a vapor barrier. This region is a temperate rainforest (75" of rain in 2013), so logic would put the barrier above the fiberglass insulation, but I keep seeing conflicting info. What's a good resource for learning how to do this properly, especially around wiring and plumbing, aside from Google and blind faith?

Lastly, lighting. The storage area has a pair of single hanging bulbs on a common circuit, with the same on the garage side. Itíll need a helluva lot more lumens to be functional and I know very little about wiring (soon to consult the household wiring thread prior to contacting an electrician). Ideally, Iíd like to have some good, low-heat fixtures that I can safely hang from the joists without smacking my 6í4Ē head Ė something shielded so the bulb isnít exposed and obnoxious, but with decent distribution so I donít need one every ten square feet (with ~7í installed height, this may be tricky). T8 tubes with diffusers are fine in my book (though likely requiring quite a few for general lighting), but Iíve been so impressed by CREEís recent household bulbs that tracked LED spotlights look good for workbench lighting. I canít find a store that has demo shop lights, so are there any suggestions?

Resources and sage advice would be much appreciated. I'll ask my money's worth of questions during the inspection, for sure. Thanks!

OneOverZero fucked around with this message at 04:14 on Jan 31, 2014

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Bibendum
Sep 5, 2003
nunc est Bibendum

I think the anxiety you're giving yourself is going to be worse for you in the long run then radon or VOC's. I'm the same way but have been getting more realistic as I age.

With two big garage doors at ground level being opened at least once a day that heavy radon will spill right out. Mostly it is an issue in houses with bedrooms in fully submerged basements that were never intended for habitation. The better rubberized epoxy garage floor systems will block radon and are low VOC, although you could just leave the doors part way open for the day or so that it will be off-gasssing. As far as the day to day vapors from working in the shop with solvents and cars coming and going all that should be necessary is some weatherstripping around the door to the stairs and a box fan that can fit in the window when you are working with nasty stuff.

For lighting I've had good luck with t8 lamps for general lighting and a halogen overhead desk light for the workbench plus a couple 250-watt halogen work lights to place where I need. Having tons of overhead lights in a workshop can be pretty pointless if you are working on cars because the roof and hood will shade the areas that you are most likely to be working on; two well placed small work lights will be way more useful. That said T8's are great since they aren't point sources but linear sources and I would put one on either side of the bike lift definitely.

edit: Have you looked at the recessed florescent's? It might be a pain to install since the ceiling in the garage is finished but it would give you a few extra inches of clearance.

Bibendum fucked around with this message at 20:22 on Jan 31, 2014

rotor
Jun 11, 2001

Official Carrier
of the Neil Bush Torch

 
 
 
 
teh butts


" This county has something like the third-highest average radon concentration in the country"

"I think the anxiety you're giving yourself is going to be worse for you in the long run then radon"

radon is no big deal as long as you don't mind dying painfully of cancer in your 50s.

if you absolutely insist on living, I think the ops plan is probably as good as any.

rotor
Jun 11, 2001

Official Carrier
of the Neil Bush Torch

 
 
 
 
teh butts


wait, the garage door opens at ground level? then how is this a basement? I'm confused and stupid.

adorai
Nov 2, 2002

10/27/04 Never forget

Grimey Drawer

rotor posted:

wait, the garage door opens at ground level? then how is this a basement? I'm confused and stupid.
People around here in the 70's and 80's had boners for bi levels with half of the basement consisting of the garage.

Slugworth
Feb 18, 2001

If two grown men can't make a pervert happy for a few minutes in order to watch a film about zombies, then maybe we should all just move to Iran!


rotor posted:

wait, the garage door opens at ground level? then how is this a basement? I'm confused and stupid.

I am assuming the house is built into a slope, garage opens on the low side.

OneOverZero
Oct 14, 2005

JET FUEL CAN'T MELT SEALED BEAMS

Bibendum posted:

I think the anxiety you're giving yourself is going to be worse for you in the long run then radon or VOC's. I'm the same way but have been getting more realistic as I age.

With two big garage doors at ground level being opened at least once a day that heavy radon will spill right out. Mostly it is an issue in houses with bedrooms in fully submerged basements that were never intended for habitation. The better rubberized epoxy garage floor systems will block radon and are low VOC, although you could just leave the doors part way open for the day or so that it will be off-gasssing. As far as the day to day vapors from working in the shop with solvents and cars coming and going all that should be necessary is some weatherstripping around the door to the stairs and a box fan that can fit in the window when you are working with nasty stuff.

For lighting I've had good luck with t8 lamps for general lighting and a halogen overhead desk light for the workbench plus a couple 250-watt halogen work lights to place where I need. Having tons of overhead lights in a workshop can be pretty pointless if you are working on cars because the roof and hood will shade the areas that you are most likely to be working on; two well placed small work lights will be way more useful. That said T8's are great since they aren't point sources but linear sources and I would put one on either side of the bike lift definitely.

edit: Have you looked at the recessed florescent's? It might be a pain to install since the ceiling in the garage is finished but it would give you a few extra inches of clearance.

rotor posted:

if you absolutely insist on living, I think the ops plan is probably as good as any.
I'll be the first to admit that I'm overthinking the Howard Hughes sanitation bunker to the point of personal detriment. Thread tag delivers!

Shop/interior door is definitely up for some additional weatherstripping, if not replacement with a fire door (guess I'll see what the inspector says). I'm not as worried about the door separating the two halves of the basement, so I might just see how much a contractor would charge to throw in a cheap pair of unfinished French doors. They seem to be a little upmarket at Lowe's and Home Depot, though I guess that makes sense given most folks' use for French doors. I just need to pass crap through, damnit.

I've found a couple no/low-VOC concrete sealers that, if not snake oil, should do the trick for my purposes. Might be best to just scrub the crap out of everything with Simple Green and see where that gets me first - no need to think about a sealer if the concrete is already saturated with oil.

Still looking at lighting. Recessed fixtures will probably end up being too much of a project, but four T8 fixtures in the garage should work, and some diffused/warm T8s with LED spotlights could work in the shop. Straddling the lift with a pair of fixtures is definitely something to consider - having them on a separate circuit would be even better! At this point, I'm mostly curious about how a dimmable LED spotlight would look from that low mount height. Probably funky, but above an engine bay, it might not matter terribly much. I have a couple halogen spot stands to use on occasion, though they're mainly just good focused heaters this time of year.

Radon inspection should be wrapped up by Friday afternoon. poo poo's scary, but true, at least the lower level isn't half-subterranean.

Slugworth posted:

I am assuming the house is built into a slope, garage opens on the low side.
I didn't describe this properly, but that's it. Most everything around here is either a split-level without a garage or a single-car at most, so this was an unusual layout until the mid-'90s. Southeast vs. northwest corners, respectively:



Little window in the first photo (thanks, creepy StreetView) is one of the pair. I feel like I should use it to pass cattle rustlers old-timey jail keys. Neither is really useful for anything else.

MonkeyNutZ
Dec 26, 2008

"A cave isn't gonna cut it, we're going to have to use Beebo"


Are you planning on drywalling the ceiling of the shop area? A nice white ceiling and walls would make the best out of whatever lighting you decide to go with.

Blistex
Oct 30, 2003

Macho Business
Donkey Wrestler


MonkeyNutZ posted:

Are you planning on drywalling the ceiling of the shop area? A nice white ceiling and walls would make the best out of whatever lighting you decide to go with.

Seconding this! White ceilings are going to make a colossal difference, and using semi-flush lighting (lights that hang down a few inches so they projects down, out and up) make a huge difference as well. My house was rife with boob lighting and off-white ceilings, and just giving everything a nice coat of white ceiling paint and some semi-flush lights made a night and day (pun intended) difference.

ibpooks
Nov 4, 2005


OneOverZero posted:

I've found a couple no/low-VOC concrete sealers that, if not snake oil, should do the trick for my purposes. Might be best to just scrub the crap out of everything with Simple Green and see where that gets me first - no need to think about a sealer if the concrete is already saturated with oil.

Just wear a respirator ($30 w/ VOC carts) and leave the roll-up door open until the product cures. Should be no big deal in an area with that much ventilation.

quote:

Recessed fixtures will probably end up being too much of a project

You don't want to use recessed, or anything else, which breaks the drywall ceiling. The drywall is a fire break between the garage and the living space. It's a code violation, but practically it also would allow a car fire to spread into the living area much faster.

quote:

Radon inspection should be wrapped up by Friday afternoon. poo poo's scary, but true, at least the lower level isn't half-subterranean.

If you do have radon, the best remediation is more about ventilation than sealing anyway. The studies show that a painted/sealed basement and an unsealed basement both end up at the same concentration of radon, the sealed basement just takes a few hours longer to get there. The long-term fixes all involve adding fresh air flow to keep radon from building up to a dangerous concentration.

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giundy
Dec 10, 2005


For my garage, I changed out the single bulb sockets for one with an outlet attached. I got a couple 300 LED light strips from amazon and wired them up to a 12v transformer which then plugs into the socket outlet. I simply wire nutted everything together and its all exposed since low voltage is a different game when it comes to code. Each strip is $8 and 15 feet long. While the lumen output is equivalent to one 100 watt bulb, you can run the strips everywhere leaving you with very well diffused light. For example,mine run down the garage door rails, so open or closed there is light surrounding the car in between.

The key thing to remember is each strip needs 2A, so size the transformers appropriately. They have sticky tape, so installation is as permenant as you want it to be. Besides initial cost, it'll be a long time before they burn out.
Example: (I want more now)

giundy fucked around with this message at 04:26 on May 3, 2014

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